Westchester Can’t Live Without: Peachwave

One reader makes a case for this ubiquitous frozen yogurt joint.

July 31, 2015

An occasional column that highlights places, foods and parks in Westchester our readers love best. 

Reader (and WW contributor) Jen Garry of Cortlandt Manor couldn’t live in Westchester without:

Peachwave in Mohegan Lake

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“We fell in love with the homey vibe (LEGOs, board games, bean bags and comfy couches kept us all happy while we stuffed our faces). My favorite frozen yogurt concoction is coconut with carob chips and a little bit of crushed peanut butter cups on top! Drool…”

Peachwave, 1821 East Main Street, Mohegan Lake; 914-743-1692, with locations in Armonk, Rye, Hartsdale, and Mt. Kisco

Westchester’s Best Playgrounds: Riverfront Green Park in Peekskill

We're on the hunt for unique and interesting playgrounds throughout Westchester County.

July 29, 2015

By Michelle Gillan Larkin, a writer and mom who lives in Northern Westchester

If you’re anything like my five-year-old son and me, you have a favorite neighborhood playground. It’s that wonderful place where you run, climb, swing and smile. And it’s terribly boring after the second visit in the same week. So you playground hop, hoping for the excitement and joy of opening a new present. It works! Until the novelty wears off … again.

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Well, don’t sulk in the sandbox, we can help! Every other week during the summer and into the fall, we’ll be looking at a different playground that we think is worthy of your time and energy. Some may have outstanding jungle gyms, others breathtaking views or cooling shade. One thing is for certain: Each is guaranteed to make you and your playground pals happy — at least once, probably twice.

First up: Riverfront Green Park in Peekskill

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There is a lot to love about this park, but the one thing that stands out about it is how it’s a great place to reconnect with school friends over the summer — think play date en masse. Aside from the sprawling jungle gym and fresh, Hudson River breezes, this lush and spacious park boasts a large gazebo that houses about a dozen picnic tables and several grills.

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Grilling at the playground may be a bit ambitious for some, but it’s a breeze to pack lunch and invite a bunch of buddies to share in the picnic, right? There’s room for the whole class, and what a bonus that everyone gets a shady break from the hot summer sun.

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The gazebo is skipping distance to the jungle gym—which can really only be described as sprawling—giving kids an opportunity to work up a really good appetite.

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And even on an extra-hot day you’ll be a wee bit cooler, thanks to the wind off the waters of the Hudson River. Plus, the view of the mountains across the way is enough to make you forget you’ve got dinner to prepare and baths to run.

It doesn’t hurt that there are boys and girls bathrooms not far from the play and picnic area, and that the train goes right by the park. And just outside, past the mechanical railroad crossing gates (fascinating to my little engineer), is the newly opened Taco Dive Bar, in case the play date runneth over. There’s also the new Hudson Creamery, a great place for rewarding taking turns on the slide.

Check back in with us in two weeks, when we’ll be profiling a playground in Pleasantville that’s perfect for early risers.

Now Open: Dobbs Ferry Waterfront Park

Head to the river to play on the new playground.

July 27, 2015

It’s been fun watching the Rivertowns develop their waterfronts, with Tarrytown’s Riverwalk being one of the most anticipated openings in the last couple of years. Now Dobbs Ferry has their own river-front trail to celebrate.

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Dobbs Ferry Waterfront Park recently opened with a brand new playground, paved walking trails and shaded benches, perfect for exploring. There’s a small dock to walk out on, offering up gorgeous views of the city skyline to the south and the Tappan Zee Bridge to the north. And when you get thirsty or need an ice cream, Hudson Social restaurant is nearby with fresh brewed iced tea and gelato.

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Situated by the Dobbs Ferry Train Station, the park has a sailing-themed playground for kids. (There’s a large, challenging playground for older kids, and an easy-climber for tots.) My son loved all of the lookouts. Best of all, there are exercise machines for parents to work out on while their kids run around. If you go, be sure to park in the designated visitor parking spaces closest to the nearby restaurant Hudson Social. Otherwise, you’ll be ticketed.

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Dobbs Ferry Waterfront Park, High Street, Dobbs Ferry

Mini-Golfing in Westchester

Spend a family day or throw a birthday party at one of these fun courses.

July 24, 2015

Mini-golf isn’t just for seaside vacations – your kids can putt to their hearts’ content right here in Westchester. Some courses also make great summer birthday party venues, since they provide plenty of outdoor space and party food options. Here are the four places offering mini-golf within the county.

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Brookside
This course at Tibbetts Brook Park is only about a decade old, but it was recently renovated to include more challenging obstacles, brand new putting greens and more attractive landscaping. A special prize goes to those who manage a hole-in-one on the final course! Birthday party packages are available.
355 Midland Avenue, Yonkers; 914-557-5046

Saxon Woods
The best part about Saxon Woods’ mini-golf course is that it’s located right in the park, so you can combine time in the pool, on the playground or at the picnic tables with a couple of rounds of mini-golf. Click here for more information about having a catered barbecue birthday party at the course.
1800 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains; 914-995-4480

Rye Playland
End a day at the beach or amusement park with some putt-putt at Rye Playland’s own 19-hole course. While the course doesn’t offer birthday party options, it does provide a discount of almost half off to groups of 20 or more – so round up a bunch of your closest friends!
100 Playland Parkway, Rye; 914-813-7010

FunFuzion
If the weather isn’t cooperating, or if your family just wants to experience a glow-in-the-dark, jungle-themed course (what family wouldn’t?), FunFuzion in New Roc City is the place to go. Of course, mini-golf birthday parties are an option here and make a great supplement to other activities such as bowling or laser tag.
29 LeCount Place, New Rochelle; 914-637-7575

Gluten-Free Restaurants in Westchester

We found the very best.

July 22, 2015

By Jennifer Garry, who blogs at Cuddles and Chaos, and covers Northern Westchester for WeeWestchester. 

Since going gluten free about a year and a half ago, going out to eat has been a little tricky. When other people choose where we’re dining, I generally assume I’ll have to stick with a “safe” salad while I drool over the deliciousness on everyone else’s plates. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against a good salad. But it can be tough to be confined to a small little box of options.

Luckily for me and gluten-free foodies throughout Westchester, there are a bunch of places popping up throughout the county that serve a slew of gluten-free options. Restaurant North in Armonk always has one or two amazing gluten-free options, but we’ve written about them before. Here are five more great places to eat.

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Bartaco
With everything from baja fish to duck tacos, this spot has all of your taco cravings covered. Not quite in the mood for tacos? They also have rice bowls, tamales, plantains and more for you to choose from—and all at really great prices. Huge bonus: a majority of the menu is gluten free! Everything is marked.
1 Willett Avenue, Port Chester; 937-TACO

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Little Crepe Street
One of the things I was saddest about when I realized I had to cut out gluten was giving up crepe dates with my BFF. With gluten-free options on the menu, the small but mighty Little Crepe Street has made all of my crepe dreams come true! The biggest struggle will be deciding between savory (from bacon, cheddar, sunny-side up egg to Tex Mex chicken) and sweet (from classic butter and sugar to chocolate grilled cheese sandwich). Yum!
29 East Main Street, Mt. Kisco; 242-0200

Maud’s Tavern
Described again and again as “cozy” and “welcoming,” Maud’s is a family-friendly place with an entire menu full of food that can be made gluten free (though a few options do require notice). With choices as diverse as half chicken, lamb chops and chili, there’s no need to feel like you’re stuck with a salad here.
49 Southside Avenue, Hastings-on-Hudson; 478-2326

Thyme
Thyme is one of my favorite places to grab dinner with friends. Why? I have never tried something there that wasn’t absolutely delicious (and trust me, I’ve taken bites of almost all of my friends’ meals) and, just as importantly, everything on the menu (except the ravioli) can be made gluten free. Major score. From crab cakes and stuffed mushrooms to penne a la vodka or a nice hunk of steak, you will not feel limited at this place.
3605 Crompond Road, Yorktown Heights; 788-8700

Ümami Café
Run by the same guys who own Peter Pratt’s Inn in Yorktown, Ümami is different from any restaurant you’ve been to before. While the gluten-free menu here is not exactly extensive, it is clearly marked and varied (from squash soup to grilled salmon with yuzu ponzu). You’ll definitely leave with happy taste buds.
325 South Riverside Avenue, Croton-on-Hudson; 271-5555

Other places with gluten-free options: Café of Love (Mt. Kisco); Table Local Market (Bedford Hills); Q Restaurant and Bar (Port Chester); Café Pizzazz (Mohegan Lake); and Sweet Grass Grill (Tarrytown).

The Best Bubble Tea in Town

Port Chester’s Bubbles & Berry makes an amazing milk bubble tea.

July 20, 2015

For bubble tea fanatics like myself, or those of you who’ve heard about bubble tea and been meaning to try it, the place to go in Westchester is Bubbles & Berry in downtown Port Chester. Not all bubble teas are created equal, and this place does it right. The milk tea (my go-to flavor) is sweet but not syrupy, and the tapioca “bubbles” are just the right texture – soft and slightly chewy.

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There’s something about drinking bubble tea that just makes you feel happy (maybe it’s the fat, brightly colored straws?), and this café, which also sells fro-yo and smoothies, features décor that’s cute and trendy, adding to the fun.

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Bubbles & Berry is the perfect stop for something sweet after a movie at Port Chester’s huge AMC Loews right across the street. It’s also a great place to go for dessert after dinner in the area, maybe at nearby Bartaco or Tarry Lodge, or the adjoining Euro Asian Bistro. Wherever you’re coming from, you’ll be delighted you made the stop!

Bubbles & Berry, 30 Westchester Avenue (entrance on Waterfront Place), Port Chester; 914-937-3680. Free lot parking is available behind the café.

5 Napkin Opens in Ridge Hill

The Upper West Side Burger Joint is now local.

July 17, 2015

When we lived on the Upper West Side with our new baby, there wasn’t a better place to grab a bite than 5 Napkin. If our baby let out a yelp, it was so loud with happy patrons buzzing about the good burgers that no one noticed.

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Rejoice! On Tuesday, 5 Napkin opened their “butcher-house chic” restaurant locally in Ridge Hill. Best of all, there will be patio seating, so you can eat one of their perfectly grilled burgers outside in this beautiful weather.

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In addition the unforgettable 5 Napkin Burger (10oz patty smothered in caramelized onions, rosemary aioli and gruyere) as well as an award-winning veggie and Asiago turkey burger, you can order things like chicken and waffles or even a burger salad (beef, turkey or veggie patty with mixed lettuce, endive, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, radishes, green beans, red onions, celery, pickled onions). 

And don’t forget the crisp-on-the-outside and perfectly salted fries. They’re to die for.

5 Napkin, 200 Market Street, Yonkers; Ridge Hill

 

How To: Unschedule Your Child’s Summer

Five Ways to Help Your Child Unwind and Recharge this Summer Break.

July 15, 2015

By Michele Kambolis, Child and Family Therapist & Author of Generation Stressed: Play-Based Tools to Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety.

With school doors closed for summer, parents are left wondering just how to make the most of this precious time. While some pack in sports camps and even summer tutoring, others question whether there should be any plan at all. You’ll easily find experts on both sides of the debate. There simply are no hard and fast rules when it comes to finding that summer balance, but finding ways to unwind and recharge top everyone’s list.

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1. LEARN ABOUT MINDFULNESS

A life practice of mindful attention and reflection is hands-down the most powerful tool we have to cultivate a family ecosystem of well-being. It also helps kids relax. All it requires is sitting and quieting the mind (which is much easier said than done!). Persuading children to sit in contemplation for any period of time can be a challenge. Here is one trick that might help. Invite kids to sit on an imaginary train. Tell them to close their eyes and turn their internal spotlight on the scenery going by. Notice that the scenery is full of images and thoughts about caring for others. Ask them to do a body scan and notice where in their body they sense feelings of love and kindness.

2. GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY: PLAY

With overscheduling and over-focusing on technology, many children have lost the essential, brain-supporting work of play – and play is indeed their work. They are calling on us to show up with a playful, non-anxious and conscious state of being. There is joy in play; where there is joy, anxiety cannot exist. So get down and speak their native language, where toys are your words and play is your palette. If that’s too hard to authentically pull off, try de-stressing together with animal yoga, building a worry wall with sticky notes, or playing a board game.

3. MOVE TO RELAX

Getting busy with our bodies is one of the most powerful buffers from the harmful impact of stress. Summer is a natural time to get a move on. The surge in feel-good neurochemicals not only boosts our immune system, it helps us to feel less stressed overall. Add the great outdoors to the mix and you will have doubled down on the benefits. Studies show we’re happier and more relaxed when we’re in natural environments than when we are indoors.

4. FIND A FURRY FRIEND

This is summer happiness homework most children will easily buy into: spend some time with a pet. One study by Dognition, an organization founded by Duke University researcher and cognitive scientist Brian Hare, found pet ownership to be strongly connected to increased well-being. Researchers found that the act of petting a dog decreases blood pressure and increases dopamine, prolactin and oxytocin, all hormones associated with happiness and bonding, as well as beta-endorphins, which are associated with relaxation and pain relief. Snuggling a furry friend causes a pleasure surge on a par with finding money, eating chocolate and looking at pictures of smiling babies.

5. DISCOVER DOWN TIME

Unstructured down time is one of the greatest gifts (and challenges) we can offer our kids over the summer. It’s when they discover new passions, talents and learn to structure and regulate themselves. Their imagination flourishes and relaxation comes naturally as they find their authentic voice, un-imposed by adult expectations and agendas. It’s a time when children can be in control, relax and maybe even uncover their dreams.

Michele Kambolis (MA) is a registered Child and Family Therapist and Parent Educator and a Registered Clinical Counselor dedicated to raising awareness about mental health issues. Kambolis writes a popular weekly parenting advice column, “Parent Traps” for The Vancouver Sun and Postmedia Network chain of newspapers. She is also the author of Generation Stressed: Play-Based Tools to Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety.

 

Let Sugar Mama Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

The new Larchmont bakeshop offers everything from custom cookies to summer camp.

July 13, 2015

Sugar Mama by Kim, a bakery that got its start doing mail orders through Etsy, opened a brick and mortar in Larchmont about a month ago. In addition to selling sweet treats, this cute little shop is a treat just to visit. Wrought-iron tables and chairs fill one side of the cozy space, while cushioned window seats line the front of the store. But of course the real draw is the display of cookies, cupcakes, cake pops and other baked goodies. My son and his buddy couldn’t take their noses off the display glass.

sugar mama cupcakes

The cupcakes are pretty amazing. We sampled several of the mini ones, and my favorite was the mocha chocolate. We tried the chocolate chip cookies, too – always the best barometer for a bakery – which were perfectly sweet and had great texture, firm but chewy. Sugar Mama specializes in custom cookies for all occasions, and they can be made organic or gluten free upon request.

sugar mama bakeshop

The shop hosts birthday parties and is running a cookie-making camp this July and August, where kids ages 5 and up get to bake and decorate their treats in the commercial kitchen. I can’t think of a sweeter way to spend the summer.

Sugar Mama by Kim, 1985 Palmer Avenue, Larchmont; 914-834-8340

Summer Photo Contest 2015

Post your best pics on Instagram to win a mini-session with Leila Sutton Photography!

July 10, 2015

Last month we asked Westchester-based photographer Leila Sutton to give us her tips on how you can take better photos of your kids this summer (read the post here). Now we want to see you put her advice to use! Tag your best pictures on Instagram with #weesummer and we’ll choose our favorites to post on this site after Labor Day.

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Leila will also select one winner to receive the grand prize, a 15-minute, kids-only mini-session with Leila Sutton Photography, on location anywhere in Westchester County. Included in the package are 5 Web-resolution images in a private online gallery, 1 Facebook cover photo, and 1 print-resolution image download. Alternatively, the winner could apply the value of this prize ($150) toward a longer, family-lifestyle photo session. Contest ends Monday, August 31.

We can’t wait to see what you’re up to this summer!

Westchester’s Ridge Hill kicks off Movie Mondays with Paddington on July 13

Festivities commence at 7pm for the first of 3 films in this screening series under the stars

July 9, 2015

This post was brought to you by Westchester’s Ridge Hill

The first film of Westchester’s Ridge Hill’s Movie Mondays Series will be Paddington this Monday, July 13! We’re thrilled to partner with Ridge Hill again this year and be on-site for this family-friendly event you won’t want to miss! Stop by and say hi at Wee Westchester’s giant chalk mural!

The movie will begin at sunset, but pre-screening festivities kick-off at 7pm and will include a Sephora costume makeup station, LEGO creations with a LEGOLAND Discovery Center model builder, a boot toss with L.L. Bean, and giveaways from The Container Store and WHUD Music.  Of course, there will be snacks and refreshments for all, including popcorn from Whole Foods, snacks and cotton candy from Frannie’s Goodie Shop, and local craft beer samples from Yonkers Brewing Co.

We will see you there!

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If you can’t make Paddington on Monday, next up is Big Hero 6 on July 27 then Maleficent on August 10.

Westchester’s Ridge Hill, One Ridge Hill Blvd, Yonkers, 10710. 

July Happy List

PLACES TO GO, THINGS TO SEE AND WHAT TO DO THIS MONTH.

July 8, 2015

Summer is in full swing, and don’t miss these must-do events all around the county. Cheers!

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This Saturday, July 11 is Pirates of the Hudson: The Greatest Pirate Story Never Told, a musical in air conditioned Tarrytown Music Hall that’s fun for all ages. Audience members help write and perform the tale in this interactive, hysterical performance. Shows at 1pm, 3pm and 7pm. Tickets are $24 for adults, $18 for kids.

One of my favorite things to do every summer is Dancing at Dusk at Caramoor Center for Music and Arts. (See our full story here.) Every Wednesday this month at 5:15pm, you can bring the kids (and a picnic dinner) to shimmy with belly dancers, clap to Israeli folk singers or dance to Greek music. Check the calendar for specific lineup. Tickets are $10 for adults; $5 for kids.

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The Pleasantville Music Festival isn’t just for grown-ups. In addition to an all-day lineup of family-friendly music, kids will love the food, crafts and walking entertainment. Festival is Saturday, July 11, tickets are $50 for adults, $28 for kids over 12, Free for kids under 12.

Westchester County is putting on outdoor movies every Wednesday this month at area pools. Doors open at 7pm, so take a swim at dusk, eat dinner and then set up your lawn chair for a poolside kiddie movie. On July 8, The Box Trolls shows at Tibbetts Brook Park in Yonkers. July 15th is Dolphin Tale 2 at Glen Island Beach in New Rochelle. July 22 is Big Hero 6 at Saxon Woods Pool in White Plains. On July 29, it’s Annie at Willson’s Waves Pool in Mount Vernon. Tickets are $5 for kids 6 and up; Kids under 5 are free.

Head to the Stamford Observatory every Friday night for a chance to see the stars through a 22-inch research telescope. Time it right, and you’ll get to see Venus and Jupiter this month. (They’re actually easy to see with the naked eye at dusk right now too. Just look for the two brightest side-by-side stars in the sky — they come out before the stars.) Recommended for kids ages 5 and up. Adults are $5, children are $3. Call 203-977-6537 for weather updates. 

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Become a member of the Greenburgh Nature Center, and you can camp out during a Family Campout on Saturday, July 18 at 5:30pm. After enjoying a cookout, explore the moonlit trails with a guide for nocturnal creatures, then enjoy s’mores by the fire. You’ll need your own tent and sleeping bag. $50 per adult/$25 per child.

Also, if you end up at Greenburgh at all this summer, don’t miss the new Butterfly Exhibit. From 10am to 3pm, you can explore the plant meadow and learn about the native habitats of these beautiful creatures. All ages are welcome. $11 for adults; $9 for kids 2 to 12 years old.

Throughout the summer, the Chappaqua Library is hosting weekly summer pajama storytime for families. On July 9th, it’s llamas at the Library, which will feature llama-themed stories and songs. Then kids are invited to pet and feed real llamas from Hudson Valley llamas. Sleepwear is optional. FREE.

Enjoy a special family-friendly performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream on July 14th at 6pm on the Great Lawn at Boscobel in Garrison. Bring blankets or beach chairs, pack a cooler and enjoy Shakespeare en plein air. All ages are welcome, but tickets are steep: $100 for a family of four.

Theme Parks Near Westchester

July 6, 2015

Been to Sesame Place so many times that you’ve got its layout and parade schedule memorized? Maybe it’s time for something different. There are actually dozens of theme park options within a couple of hours of Westchester, including several that are smaller in size and geared toward younger kids. You may be surprised to find […]

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Three Recipes to Elevate Your Average Lemonade

July 3, 2015

By Lucy Baker, food writer, mom, and blogger at cheatingvegan.com It’s prime lemonade stand season. If your kids are plotting to strike it rich by setting up a card table at the end of your driveway (or you’re in the mood for some fresh lemonade), you might be tempted to make a big batch of lemonade […]

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July 4th Fireworks Guide 2015

July 1, 2015

The fireworks start tonight (!) and continue throughout the weekend. Here’s where to go, and what to expect. Larchmont Bring the kids to for family races at Flint Park in Larchmont on Saturday, July 4th at 10am. Then head to Manor Park (99 Park Avenue, Larchmont), a gorgeous waterfront green space, later that evening for live […]

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Sun Safety Tips for Summer

June 29, 2015

We all love fun in the sun with our families in the summertime, but with so much information on sun protection being thrown at us, we wanted to get the facts straight. We asked Dr. Dan Cohen of WestMed to share his top tips for summer sun safety, the obvious takeaway being “sunscreen is vital for our […]

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